Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting - Book

"Michael Pearsons’s Traditional Knitting – Aran, Fair Isle and fisher ganseys" by Michael Pearson; 1984,1985; soft cover; 205 pages.

I scored this book on ebay recently and am delighted to own it. I’ve heard of Michael Pearson’s work before but hadn’t the opportunity to view it. To collect the information and photos in the book, Michael traveled around the remote fishing villages of the northern UK, speaking with the locals, viewing family photo albums and collecting information.

The book’s main chapters are: Introduction, Knitting Techniques, Fisher Ganseys, Two-colour Knitting of the Shetland Isles and Fair Isle, The Knitting of Aran. There are also sections on listing of suppliers, further reading and “notes for American readers”.

There is information on knitting in the round and using the knitting belt which I found interesting after my try at it, as well as the jumper board. In addition, there is a section on making your own patterns with directions for the underarm gusset, some great shoulders ideas and designs for collars that I want to try.

Throughout the book there are loads of great photographs, old and new, showing fishermen wearing different ganseys, life in this part of the UK and other knitted items. Included are graphs of different designs for traditional gansey patterns as well as for stranded knitting (even the pattern for the famous HRH Prince of Wales slipover!). The vast majority are black and white; the only colour photos are in the Fair Isle section. In the book are complete recipes for some slipovers, aran jumpers and a “stitchionary”.

This is a fantastic book and a must for the devotee of Gansey and Fair Isle knitting. It does assume a grasp of knitting and doesn't hold your hand when explaining patterns (that doesn't mean the book is difficult to read or understand; it's just matter-of-fact in its approach). Because it’s scope is very narrow, I wouldn’t recommend it for knitters who have no particular interest in these two styles of knitting. But for the rest of you - and you know who you are - I am confident you will not only enjoy but also find this book most useful.


Kerry's picture

What a great find! There is so much good information to be found in some of the older books.

I have one very similar to this from 1989. It gives gansey patterns from the various fishing villages on the east coast of England, some information on these sweaters and also sections with Fair Isle, Aran and Shetland lace patterns. There is also a section on techniques, both basic and advanced, and yarn suppliers used for the garments shown. Some of the patterns are beginning to look a bit dated, but can easily be updated. I use this book a lot and find it a useful source of information.
Mine is called The Traditional Sweater Book by Madeline Weston.

Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog What a great book you found, I bet you will be reading from cover to cover. It is nice to have such a book that includes actual traveling to the places where the techniques were born.

kiwiknitter's picture

For those Fair Isle knitting enthusiasts, I see another copy of this is currently on ebay.

Knit like the wind!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly